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West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Interview with Donna Joy-Candidate for Jefferson County WV Board of Education

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Good morning. Welcome to this edition of the Richard Urban show were we present news and views from God’s point of view. I’m very happy to have Donna Joy on the show today. She’s running for board of education here in Jefferson County. So please introduce yourself.

“I am Donna Joy and I’m running for the Board of Ed in Jefferson County.”

“I’ll just share with you why I feel like I’m the most qualified. I taught Special Ed for 15 years. I have a master’s degree in Special Ed. I feel that our current school board could use, we need to help with the Special Ed following Special Ed federal/state guidelines. So I could be a big help there.”

“I have a PhD in Educational measurement Statistics, Research and Evaluation. And that is necessary on the board to follow sound research using logic. Making research-based decisions, interpreting data, interpreting graphs. When I’ve seen some of the Board meetings I’ve been to, and the superintendent can explain some of the things to the Board, but the Board seems to be dependent on the superintendent’s explanation, and so the Board needs to increase in that area. I don’t know of a better way to say that. I have taught Math for 30 years, Math and Special Ed, and at the high school, college level, and I also worked as a book keeper when I was going through college. So I can look at budgets, and financial reports quickly, and easily, analyze, look for errors, find gaps or ways to save money. I am certified in all main subjects, including Special Ed, I supervise student teachers and principals dissertations, so I know the latest research on administration and supervision and also the needs of new teachers.”

Richard: As a Board of Education member what do you think your most crucial role is? What would you say the most important role of the Board of Education is?

“Right now, I feel like our Board needs a change. We need some new ideas and new skill sets on the Board. So that’s the way I see for myself. So I think I could bring that. I’m not part of any, and I’m not part of the good old boy club and I’m not part of any groups. I’m an independent, I do what’s best for the kids. My motivation is education improving the school system as a citizen, I feel that it’s my moral and ethical responsibility, given all my extensive background in education, to see what I could do to help. To apply myself in that way.”

Richard: You mentioned, you had a background in Special Education. That it’s something you’ve been teaching that’s on your information on your website. What are the most critical areas is in the schools right now, the three most critical areas in Jefferson County? I know you mentioned Special Ed. Is that one of them?

“We have a serious problem in Special Ed. We stay out of compliance, so the school system gets sued, often. So we lose money, but we’re not addressing the needs of the kids that really need help. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but education, and really requiring that we have a complete overhaul of the Special Ed program in Jefferson County Schools.  I believe that’s needed.”

Richard: I know in some jurisdictions parents have sued or filed complaints legally against the school system for inadequate education. And then they will ask for placement out of the system privately. And the school system has to pay for it. Is that something that’s happening around here, or that’s not an issue?

“That happens too. We have more basic problems, so I don’t want to sound too negative, but the truth is that this current administration and school board seems to want to minimize the number of students receiving services because they feel that it’s a financial burden. And I’m saying that because I was in one of the court hearings, and heard one of the Board Members explain that it was a burden to the school system. So what some school systems will do is they’ll try to minimize the number, that way they don’t have to supply it with Special Ed teachers or other services. So that’s illegal and we need to stop that. Right now if a parent calls and says ‘my child has a disability, I want to get my child tested’. The question will be, is your child failing? No, no, he’s not failing. Well, honey, we can’t help them if he’s not failing, we don’t have Special Ed services. We don’t give them to kids unless they’re failing. That’s illegal. That’s not the basis for an IEP or extra help.”

“So another problem is the maintenance. Every school that I have been in the ceiling, the roof leaks. There’s the heating and air conditioning problem. And then we have this whole Shepherdstown education, complex that has to be built. The lands been sitting there for a few years now. So just to maintain what we have and to get it to where it’s safe; the buildings, and there’s a track at Jefferson High School. The track field needs to be fixed so that’s another basic problem.”

“The third basic problem is the break in trust between the public and the School Board and administration, came about because there wasn’t full disclosure, and there hasn’t been, about a lot of things. But it blew up. And so, the county’s been divided. So that needs to be mended. So we need to stress transparency, accessibility, and accountability.”

Richard: one of my neighbors mentioned that he didn’t think the school board should be spending X many dollars, on the Rockwool thing. Is that the kind of thing you’re talking about, or are you talking about other things?

“I was talking about, even before that. But that’s one of the issues. So the first problem was, they didn’t ask the public. How do you feel about this PILOT [payment in lieu of taxes]? Should we go along with it? So a lot of people lost trust because of that. Because they found out it was a secret deal. Well, then there was another group that lost trust, because then they took what they claimed we don’t have money for, Special Ed to begin with, and they took that and you used it for lawyers to fight. It was a dead end fight because they had property already.”

“The argument the school system used was illegal. And that’s what I’m saying, they don’t know basic laws about Special Ed. We have worked for over 50 years in this country to get Special Ed children to be included in the regular school system, because they used to take all the special need kids and either throw them in the basement. And they would eat lunch at the end of the day, and they would end up cleaning the cafeteria by themselves. They would isolate. And these are disabilities such as a child’s gifted, but they have a language disability.”

Richard: Let me ask a question that’s close to my heart. I work in the field of sexual health education. Specifically abstinence-centered. So do you think that kind of area, sexual health education, should the expected standard for school aged children be not to have sex before marriage? That was two decades ago, that was stated in the so called Title 5 funding, that’s the expected standard for school aged children, wait to have sex until you’re married. Is that a good idea to have that kind of standard? What do you think?

“Absolutely, that would be my request for a standard. Whether the outside world has influence, but the goal of school should be to focus on education and children’s learning. You don’t want them to be encouraged to do other sorts of outside activities that are gonna distract them from the goal of learning. so that’s part of it, but for health reasons, they’re not ready to be parents, at that young of an age, they’re not ready for the responsibilities and all the changes that happen when you’re involved in a romantic relationship. So that’s what I teach my children. Doesn’t mean it always happens, but in the world and there’s a lot of influences.”

Richard: Absolutely, but at least setting a standard.  You mentioned, I noticed you’ve been working on getting a financial literacy requirement. Do you want to say anything about that?

“If we could give them one skill that would help them in their lives. I think it’s personal finance and people think that, Oh, it’s just balancing a check book. It’s mortgages, interest, estate planning, school loans, Car loans, bonds, stocks, IRA’S, taxes. There’s so much involved and most adults don’t know about those things. If we could teach kids these things, I think it would help them to save money. Learning about compound interest. Investing now, a little bit while they’re in high school, so that in 30 years they might have something. They don’t have to be dependent on the system.”

Richard: It can be a little confusing. So you can vote for three people for the Board of Education. And I know there’s some limit if there were too many people from one district, but basically, barring that, the top three people will win, right? And also tell us how would you differentiate yourself from your opponents? What should people know why they should vote for you versus other people?

“Okay, well, so yeah, you can vote for up to three people. You can vote for one, two, or three from any district. It doesn’t matter if you live in their district or they live in your district, but no more than two people can be on the Board from any one district.”

Richard: Got it, that’s clear. As people look to vote on June 9, and as we’re saying, the School Board will be elected on June 9th. That is the election, final election. Why should people vote for you, differentiating you from the other candidates?

“Well, I’m the most qualified. I am a career educator, I’ve been teaching for 33 years. I don’t have any personal ties to; several board members, they have a lot of old family and connections with businesses. I’m wanting to be on the board to help and, out of, like I said, my ethical moral responsibility to help. I have the skills that could help. I have more skills that the School Board needs than other candidates, which is unfortunate because we don’t have, It looks like we have 11 people, but we don’t really have 11 people, three of them aren’t even showing up for forums.”

“So that’s one thing I’m the most qualified. I am passionate and I didn’t just move here two weeks ago, a year ago. And think it’s a cool thing for one issue. I have several issues and they’re all related to education in helping the children and I have a track record of helping the school system. I’ve been teaching here for eight years and the whole time I’ve been here, I have put my job and my reputation on the line, dealing with issues such as the school system has a policy or had it until, hopefully they took it down after I spent a whole year dealing with the state employee grievance board to get that fixed, but they had a policy that allowed them to hire long-term subs over certified teachers.”

Richard: thank you very much for taking the time to come on today. We’ll put this up on video and podcast and hopefully many voters will watch it so they can make an informed choice. Remember, you can vote for three people for Board of Education on June 9th.

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